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America’s Story: A Pictorial History of the Pledge of Allegiance

By Tricia Raymond
Sametilon Publishing Co.

PO Box 14081
Jackson, MS 39236-4081

America’s Story: A Pictorial History of the Pledge of Allegiance is a big paperback book with a beautiful picture of the American flag on the cover. The waving flag begs the reader to open up the book and dive into the history the Pledge. The book is nicely divided into seven chapters.

This book begins with an introduction to the time period just before the writing of the Pledge of Allegiance, a time in which America was still much divided after the Civil War. Ms. Raymond introduces you to James Upham, the man who began the Schoolhouse Flag Movement. With each chapter the reader learns more about the acquisition of the flags, the writing of the Pledge of Allegiance, and the addition of the phrase “under God.” While a fifth- or sixth-grade student could easily read the book independently as part of a U.S. history study, I think it would be best used as a read-aloud. The book is very suspenseful! There are also many opportunities to discuss the information with your children. A parent who likes units could use this book as a starting point and then have the children research something of interest from the book. Ms. Raymond writes about how “under God” was added to the Pledge in a way that is historical and not overly religious. The remarks from Congressman Louis Rabaut from August 20, 1954, are included in the book as well as the prayer by Reverend Walter Mitchell offered on June 14, 1954, the day the Pledge of Allegiance was recited for the first time with the phrase “under God.”

Tricia Raymond wonderfully portrays the circumstances in the United States that left a void that the Pledge of Allegiance would fill. She describes everyday life in 1888 in great detail before she discusses the time period the Industrial Revolution. I like how Ms. Raymond used print art from that era as well as ads that ran in The Youth’s Companion. The typeface of the book also felt authentic, helping the reader to feel as though the book was from the 1890s. I also liked the glossary with phonetic spelling for easy pronunciation.

At first I was disappointed that the book didn’t have color pictures. I am accustomed to seeing at least a few color pictures in history books. But after reading the entire book, I understand why Ms. Raymond chose to use black and white drawings, ads, and photographs: it is typical of the period in which the Pledge was written.

America’s Story: A Pictorial History of the Pledge of Allegiance is a book that I could easily give a neighbor or a new immigrant friend. It provides an easy, factual presentation of the history of the Pledge of Allegiance.

—Product review by: Maggi Beardsley, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2008

America's Story: A Pictorial History of the Pledge of Allegiance is a very nice 11” x 14” softcover book (about 80 pages long) that tells the story of how America's pledge of allegiance came to be. It is all nicely done in black and white and uses old sketches, historical photographs, and ads from newspapers and magazines from the 1880s.

The book tells how it all started with an advertisement in a popular children’s magazine with an ad for American flags. Some Americans were afraid that the children of America would become complacent about their freedoms. So a push was made to get flags into homes and schools to promote patriotism. The book discusses why this was a concern. It tells about James Upham and his “schoolhouse flag movement.” He wanted to see a flag flown in front of every public school and to have a national ceremony with the flag as the central point. It goes on to tell how he accomplished that by the very first celebration of Columbus Day.

The story goes on to tell us how the pledge of allegiance came to be and of the changes that have been made to the whole flag ceremony--from the way we handle and fold the flag to the salute, which was changed from a Hitler-style salute to a hand over the heart. It also tells us how, when, and why the phrase “Under God” was inserted. Then it finally takes us to the point in time when it was signed into law that school children would daily recite the pledge. This book really is a must-read for everyone who wants to know more about our heritage as Americans. It gives a piece of history I had never heard about or read anywhere else.

The book is a quick read for older students and adults, but it provides so much information not available elsewhere. I recommend reading it aloud to your middle age and younger children in order to be able to discuss it. This book has no frills, but it describes a very significant piece of our history. I highly recommend this book; it is worth the $12 price. Our children need to know this information. Maybe as homeschoolers we should bring back the flag and the pledge of allegiance to our homeschools.

—Product review by: Kerri Schnetz, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2008

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